Junior Bill suffers side stitch at Nationals

By Troy Murray

Junior Jason Bill placed 76th at the men’s NCAA cross-country championship on Nov. 22 in Terre Haute, Ind. Bill suffered a painful side stitch that affected his performance.

“For most guys that would be a good race, but not for him,” said coach Paul Pilkington.

The side stitch, which is a painful cramp in the abdomen, caused Bill trouble early in the race and dropped him back from the front of the pack.

Bill has been battling the condition throughout his career, but it was under control through the early part of this season. It first flared up at the Big Ten Championship on Oct. 31.

Bill had big hopes entering the race and was expected to finish as an All-American. To do so, he would have had to finish as one of the top 25 Americans in the field.

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“He would’ve finished a lot higher,” Pilkington said. “If he were healthy, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say he could be an All-American.”

The Big Ten had an excellent showing. Wisconsin placed second overall – edged out of first by Colorado – with Simon Bairu winning the race and two others finishing in the top 15.

Out of the 30 teams competing, Iowa placed 13th overall, Minnesota tied with Indiana for 18th, Ohio State was 22nd, Michigan finished 26th, and Michigan State was 28th.

Illinois did not participate as a team; Bill was the only runner who qualified.

Bill’s focus now turns to track and field. Pilkington hopes that Bill can recover for that season, which starts in January.

“I’m disappointed that we can’t get the side stitch solved,” Pilkington said. “We’re still looking for resolution with the side stitch problem. If we don’t, he’ll never reach his potential in cross country.”